I recently told a friend about my relocation out of the city I've grown up and made my bones as a creative director in. He responded:
'I hope you didn't do all that sacrificing just to move. You don't even know how many people you've helped with their dreams. You weren't thinking about your purpose when you moved.'
I'm sure he meant well and was genuinely concerned about my career and presence in the existing art scene I exited from. But what he didn't know was that I am well aware of my sacrifice and I can still see my influence pulsating in the heart of my city. And being aware of those things is what prompted me to leave.
I spent years working toward the same goals and gaining no real financial traction. Sure I got plenty of clout but you can't cash in clout especially when that clout is coming from a B market. Since I wasn't in a large city my influence on my community and state could not be monetized. A third party wasn't willing to come on board and pay me for what I do. Of course, they'd offer product and sponsorship but that's where it stopped. If you're not in a city like NYC your value isn't acknowledged by corporations because you're not in a top tier market.
My destiny is not to be a starving artist, it is to provide a fruitful life for my family and find fulfillment for myself through the arts. Throwing illegal art parties in hole in the wall venues just isn't sustainable. My audience was willing to attend my events but weren't willing to make a long-term investment into my bottom line. An audience of twenty-somethings quite frankly isn't ready to invest in anything. I even had trouble with convincing people to give me a long-term sweat equity investment with a bonus of patience to help me with my ultimate goals. Goals that would not just be fruitful for me but effectively beneficial to the entire art community I was operating in. That compiled with seeing how my influence gained more returns for others than it did for me is what prompted me to analyze my situation.
And that's how I realized that I had hit a ceiling. The DIY scene anywhere USA isn't something you can do forever. I've rebranded, reinvigorated my core and innovated the way I earned many times over. But at the root, I was doing the same thing, getting the same results and my gross was not increasing. I was ready for a change.
Today I'm freelancing and concentrating on developing my portfolio enough to get larger contracts. Working for corporations as an independent contractor is sustainable and for what its worth, taxable. I'm still influencing my community but without the headache of trying to make money from it. This newsletter is free for you and fulfilling for me.
But the real question is, did I give up when I moved, did I abandon my purpose? I didn't, what I was slow to realize and what my concerned friend was unaware of is I have a talent I have yet to monetize. A lifelong interest and a dream I've been actively deferring, I'm a really good writer. This entire time I've been in the visual arts I was neglecting my talents as an academically trained fiction writer. I can't pinpoint the catalyst for my years of procrastination, was it fear or blindness. Maybe both, but it doesn't matter because I'm ready now. And that's where my new goal comes in. Writing a book? Sure, but that's not the goal I'm referring to. The new goal is exploring all of my purposes even the ones that have continued to exhaust me.
My greatness cannot be contained to a singular purpose, industry or genre. I'll leave you with some wise words from my brother Facade HQ:
'Maybe the things I think I'm naturally good at are really just a way to keep me busy from doing what I really need to be doing. The things I'm really scared of....'
-Earl 'Wolf' Davis